Delegates at the conference. (FP)

The 21st Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas wrapped up last week at the Accra Beach Hotel with delegates describing discussions as fruitful and successful.

The four-day meeting brought together some 100 representatives from across the globe to discuss issues related to animal health and veterinary services in the North American, Caribbean and Latin American region.

Senior Veterinary Officer and Secretary General of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas, Dr. Mark Trotman, pointed out that the meeting had the highest number of regional representatives of any meeting held by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which augured well for the small island Caribbean states.

Dr. Trotman suggested that this meeting provided the Caribbean with an opportunity to speak to some of the major issues impacting them in the areas of international trade and animal health.

Among the topics discussed were veterinary education, transparency in reporting animal health issues; halting the outbreak of animal diseases after a natural disaster; and developing sub regional networks aimed at protecting animal health.

"There were a number of issues relevant to the Caribbean which were discussed and dealt with at the conference such as the development of regional animal health networks and the importance of the CaribVet health network and the work that is being done there to strengthen disease surveillance across the region. There was also a very fruitful discussion on disaster preparedness and the role of veterinary services in disaster preparedness and these are two areas which are very important to the Caribbean area," Dr. Trotman said.

The Senior Veterinary Officer added that the meeting also gave the Caribbean a chance to speak about their challenges as net importers and by extension, their concerns about the development of international trade standards.

He acknowledged that Barbados still had "a long way to go" in terms of upgrading its standards for the export of animals and animal products to major markets and as such, local officials were working in collaboration with the OIE and member countries to achieve this goal.

"A great advantage of this conference is that it gave us an opportunity to have face-to-face dialogue with the member countries we want to trade with. This allows us to see what obstacles are in place and work out ways to overcome them. So, while there are still some things we have to do and we are moving towards it, I am optimistic that with the assistance of the OIE, with our determination to meet those standards, to pass the legislation and develop the resources we need, I [believe] that we should be able to reach that," Dr. Trotman said.


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